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Surgery Residents Exposed to Rural Settings Inclined to Stay

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 10, 2013

Surgical residents who completed a year in rural practice were more likely to enter general surgery practice than those who did not. They were also more likely to practice in areas with populations of less than 50,000, an Oregon Health and Science University study shows.

Evidence suggests that a good way to lure young physicians into rural practice is to provide them with that experience while they are medical residents.

A new study out of Oregon this month in JAMA Surgery, for example, finds that exposing fourth-year surgery residents to rural practices increases the likelihood that they will practice general surgery in a similar location, even if their initial plans were to further specialize or settle in more-urban areas.

Karen Deveney, OHSU

Karen Deveney, MD, program director for OHSU's Department of Surgery

The study reviewed the records of 70 surgical residents Oregon Health and Science University in Portland who completed the general surgical residency at OHSU and entered practice since the rural rotation began in 2002. The numbers are small, but the study found that residents who completed the rural year were more likely to enter general surgery practice (10 of 11) than those who did not (28 of 59). They were also more likely to practice in a site of population less than 50,000.

Most residents who completed the rural year (6 of 11) entered residency with a desire to practice general surgery. Of the residents who entered training with a specialty career in mind, four of five who completed the rural year are practicing general surgery, while 13 of 45 who stayed at OHSU's university program for the entire five years are in general surgery practice.

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